Can a Psilocybin Trip Break Your Smoking Addiction?
Cigarettes are incredibly addictive, and quitting the habit can be a real challenge. Even the best smoking cessation drug, varenicline, only has a 35% success rate. But there is hope from a somewhat unexpected source – magic mushrooms. More accurately, the drug is psilocybin, the active ingredient in ’shrooms, which can lead to a psilocybin trip. In clinical trials, it was found to be 80% effective.
Granted, it was a small study with only 15 participants, but the results are promising. That isn’t to suggest, however, that you should brew up a mug of “special tea” and toss the smokes in the trash.
The study was done under carefully controlled conditions, with special attention given to the size of the dose. The results, caution researchers, are not intended to encourage a do-it-yourself approach at home.
How it works
Regular smoking cessation drugs work by inhibiting nicotine receptors, creating a biological reaction that leads to kicking the habit. Psilocybin works in a completely different way. When used in a therapeutic setting, the drug promotes reflection on one’s life, sparking motivation to change one’s habits.
To clarify, these weren’t casual smokers who might have stopped on their own without the help of mind-altering drugs. On average, the study participants had smoked nearly a pack a day for 30-plus years. They had also tried, unsuccessfully, to quit several times.
How it’s done
Study participants attended psychotherapy, where they were given pills of psilocybin and guided through the session. Introducing psychedelics into the therapy sessions allowed for what researchers call “deeply meaningful” experiences that led to the decision to quit smoking.
In addition to becoming cigarette-free, study participants also told researchers in follow-up interviews that they had a newfound openness to experiences and an enhanced aesthetic appreciation.
Building on the results of the initial 15-person study, researchers at John Hopkins conducted further studies. The follow-up test split a larger group – 80 people – into groups, with one taking a traditional smoking cessation aid and the other taking psilocybin. Again, the results were encouraging, with 59% of the psilocybin group stating they quit smoking, compared to 23% in the traditional therapy group, who used patch-based NRT treatment.
Although more research needs to be done, the results are promising and will hopefully lead to a wider acceptance of a psilocybin trip as a viable therapy and treatment method.